Mid-Atlantic

December, 2009
Regional Report

Let Fish Hibernate

Koi and other fish in a pond deeper than 2 feet will stay in a state of semi-hibernation in cold water below the freeze line. As temperatures drop, the fish metabolism slows. Best not to feed them after the water temperature drops below 50 degrees F.

Get Physical

Take winter care of you, the gardener. In this lull between the holidays and spring's gardening flurry, offset winter doldrums with enjoyable exercise. Gardening IS exercise for the body, mind, and soul. When weather precludes pursuing our passion, find a fun, physical substitute that stretches and strengthens. My favorites are gentle on the joints yet good for the heart and muscles: Pilates and swimming followed by a hot dip in the whirlpool. Staying flexible and strong now will mean fewer sore muscles and aches when the garden season resumes.

Don't Worry About Peeping Bulbs

In periods of unseasonably warm weather, bulbs tend to show themselves, especially those planted on the south side. They send up their leaves first so there is usually nothing to worry about. A little damage to the foliage will not hurt them, and the flower bud is usually still deep in the ground.

Keep Pond Water Flowing

In winter a pond with running water needs occasional attention to keep the water moving. Debris build-up and ice dams can cause sluggish, slow, or still water that spills over the liner. So it's important to remove ice, branches, and leaves that impede flow. Also maintain the necessary water level so the pump works properly; water evaporates even in cold weather.

Find Inspiration Outdoors

Take a winter stroll through an arboretum or public garden to appreciate the sculptural forms of conifers and deciduous trees and shrubs. This is a quiet time in any garden, a contemplative opportunity, an artist's moment. Just you, the birds, and the squirrels. Bark textures and colors stand in sharp contrast against a grey sky or white snow. Branches, seedpods, cones, and above-ground roots are center stage in the winter landscape. Take time to read the ID tags of woodies that appeal; you may want to add them to your garden.

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